GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing looks for second New Jersey Motorsports Park win in three years in Sunday’s Global Barter 250
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, will look for their second win at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) in three years and first of the 2012 season in the team’s new No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype in this weekend’s Global Barter 250 presented by presented by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Round 4 of 13 races in the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season, the timed 2-3/4-hour sprint on NJMP’s Thunderbolt Raceway can be seen live on SPEED this Sunday, May 13, at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST.
Gurney and Fogarty drove the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” to their only victory on Thunderbolt at NJMP in 2010 and backed it up with a third-place finish last year after contending for the victory. Fogarty won the pole in qualifying during the winning 2010 weekend and GAINSCO has started no lower than third in each of the last three races at NJMP.
“I feel like we have the right package for New Jersey,” Fogarty said. “It is a handling track more than anything else so if we can get the car to turn we should be in good shape. Having said that, it is a difficult circuit. Last year, tire wear was an issue and you cannot ignore the long front straightaway when it comes to choosing a level of downforce for the race. We have been on the podium at N.J. more often than not, and it’s not a ‘roval,’ so I do think it is a GAINSCO track.”
A New Jersey victory would shake off any lingering disappointment from a rare early retirement in the most recent race two weeks ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Starting driver Fogarty moved to fourth place after an early restart and was just beginning to reel in the top three when an internal engine problem sidelined the No. 99 just 30 minutes into race.
“Not finishing is always a blow, even if the points situation is not devastating,” Fogarty said. “I am sure the problem we encountered at Homestead will be remedied and we can move forward in fighting back in the points, but it won’t be easy. The competition is so tough, but the GAINSCO team is strong and we have a fast car so we do have the tools to get the job done.”
Gurney never had the opportunity to drive in the Miami race but both he and Fogarty, and the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype, were granted the full 22 championship points that came with their eventual ninth-place finish. The No. 99 and its drivers rank seventh in the respective GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships with 72 points but trail the leaders in both title battles by just 15 points.
“It was good of GRAND-AM to give us the points,” Fogarty said. “Our situation was very similar to the No. 10 SunTrust car at Daytona when they had an early problem. We could have gone back out on track but it would have created a potentially dangerous and costly situation. The track was slippery enough as it was; it didn’t need any additional fluids. We did the right thing and so did GRAND-AM.”
Thunderbolt has developed into a track that Gurney and Fogarty both enjoy, for the layout and the fan support.
“This is actually a pretty cool circuit,” Gurney said. “The fans really turn out for this event. I like the mix of corners and it seems like the track lends itself to some good racing.”
Beginning with this weekend’s race in New Jersey, a full 10 races remain on the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series calendar. While that may seem like a lot, the No. 99 GAINSCO team is feeling some pressure to score a victory now.
“It has been go time since Daytona; we just have not really gone anywhere,” Fogarty said. “Our effort is and has been 100%. We will keep that up and hopefully our mechanical issues are history.”
Not counting this year’s inaugural races in Detroit and Indianapolis, GAINSCO has won at least one race at six of the eight remaining venues on the 2012 schedule. The list of victories – accounting for more than half of GAINSCO’s 15-career wins – includes NJMP (2010), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (2007 and 2008), Watkins Glen Sahlen’s Six Hour (2007), Watkins Glen NASCAR Course (2007), Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (2009 and 2011) and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Montreal (2011).
The two exceptions, Lime Rock Park and Road America, are also the most recently added Daytona Prototype races on the GRAND-AM Rolex Series tour. Prototypes debuted at Road America last year and have only been racing at Lime Rock since 2010.
The Global Barter 250 is a full three-day weekend event, including an unofficial test day on Thursday, and joins Miami as the only other Sunday feature race on the 2012 schedule. A full day of official practice on Friday will be followed by final practice and qualifying Saturday morning. Race-day Sunday begins with a 20-minute final practice warm-up at 9:10 a.m. before that afternoon’s Global Barter 250 at 1 p.m.
– GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is among the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series teams supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation at this weekend’s Global Barter 250 presented by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The organization’s Central and South New Jersey affiliates will have family activities at the circuit throughout the Mother’s Day weekend and breast cancer survivors are invited to participate in the “Start your Engines” command on Sunday. GAINSCO has donated a pit crew experience to a special online charity auction that will see the winners join the No. 99 team for a priceless insider’s look at the race-day operation on Sunday. Bids are now being accepted at http://www.komencsnj.org/njmp.